FROM 1800’s to 2018: From simple and humble beginnings football boots have come a long way and today find themselves subject to much research, development, sponsorship, and marketing at the heart of a multi-national global industry.
In the late 1800s footy boots began to emerge in Britain. They were made of thick leather and were still quite heavy (about 0.5kg dry and heavier if wet). They also laced up the ankle for better protection. This was the beginning of the modern football boots we know of today.
The early decades of the 1900s saw little change in football shoes. Adolf Dassler and his brother Rudolf deserve all the credits of the year 1954. Improving speed, agility, and comfort, they also allowed players to choose studs based on the conditions they were playing in.
The big shift from ankle boots to a lower cut boot took place in the ‘60s, increasing speed and movement. Adidas had introduced their own football boot that came with screw-in studs that were interchangeable.
Throughout the early years and into the mid-1900s the boots only came in black. It was around the 1970s that designers began to experiment with different colors. The decade saw the emergence of two iconic boots; the PUMA King and the Adidas Copa Mundial.
During the 1980s, Australian Craig Johnston, a former player with Middlesbrough and Liverpool, developed what has become the biggest selling football boot of all time, the Adidas Predator (launched in 1994).
Nike began making a big push into the footy boot market with the lightest boot on record to date. The Nike Mercurial weighed less than 200g, achieved by the use of synthetic leathers. New developments this time allowed for the soles to best support the cleats while providing better flexibility.
The progress of laser technology in the 2000s allowed for boots to be fully customized for the player. For example, professionals now choose to have their name and sometimes their jersey number on their customized boots.
Further technological developments continue as the sport grows in popularity with the use of microchips and tracking tools. The new Adidas f50 includes a microchip in the boot, tracking speed and distance covered to monitor and review performance.
Players can track their movements and their performance either on a computer or on their smartphone.